To protect older people from exploitation across the state, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Division of Aging Services Forensic Special Initiatives Unit felt it was important to establish a task force.

The GBI and FSIU have jointly set up the Crimes Against Disabled Adults and Elderly Task Force to address these issues. The task force will develop and deliver training, provide technical and case support, and advance the police force by identifying service gaps.

“We wanted to address the specific issues facing the growing population and ways to increase awareness and detection of vulnerable adult abuse among first and second responders,” said Heather Strickland, associate special adviser for the Department of Human Exploitation and Trafficking, which now includes CADE -Taskforce said. “It will help Augusta, along with the entire state of Georgia.”

Crimes Against Older Adults

Strickland said the most common type of exploitation of older adults is financial exploitation. She said that about 80% of the financial exploitation of older adults is by someone known, be it a caretaker, family member or someone else.

Since 2010, 4,951 perpetrators of crimes against older adults have been arrested on 8,678 counts. The number of perpetrators rose from 223 in 2010 to 691 in 2019, according to GBI data. The 2020 numbers were slightly lower with 576 perpetrators and 861 charges, but GBI officials told FOX 5 Atlanta that the lower numbers due to the pandemic.

Strickland said the task force’s work will be more effective if it supports state and local agencies involved in recognizing and responding to violence against the elderly.

“We will certainly do everything in our power to ensure that those who are first responders and second responders have the training and resources they need to solve the problem in their own communities,” she said. “Law enforcement agencies are often unsure whether it is a power of attorney, whether it is a civil or criminal matter, so we have the experts in this area to assist local law enforcement agencies.”

Augusta unit

Following the dissolution of the Crimes Against the Vulnerable and Elderly Task Force, Augusta District Attorney Jared Williams decided to set up a new unit to investigate crimes against the elderly. Williams created a Special Victims Unit and hired a 20-year veteran attorney to lead it.

“We focus on providing the best possible service to our victims,” ​​Williams said in an email. “The SVU will be fully staffed with prosecutors, investigators and victim attorneys whose only job is to fight crimes against our most vulnerable victims: children, sexual assault survivors, and the elderly and disabled.”

Williams said the SVU allows a “greater focus” of time and resources on vulnerable casualties than the CAVE Task Force. He said CAVE was headed by a prosecutor who had to split the attention between CAVE cases and their regular case numbers, but the new unit allows for better specialization within his office.

Last December, the former CAVE director William Loomer announced the dissolution of the task force. At the time, former District Attorney Natalie Paine said the decision to disband the task force was the only choice the CAVE team had, and said the people who run the task force have been urged to leave.

Strickland said the CAVE team had done a great job in the three years they were active. She said it was important for judicial circles and prosecutors to set up similar teams across the state.

“We certainly encourage all district attorneys to create one because we see that it is very helpful what we have seen at CAVE, what we see in Dekalb, what we see in Cobb and many other districts that have the official multinational Disciplinary teams, ”she said.

Williams said they were concerned about crimes against the elderly. He said it is important that everyone play their part, the GBI and law enforcement through investigation and the prosecution offices through the prosecution.

“If everyone plays their position well, the entire community wins,” he said.

Report any suspicion of abuse, neglect or exploitation to the local police and Adult Protection Service (APS) at (866) 55AGING – (866) 552-4464 – option 3 if the victim lives in a private home, or if the victim lives In a long-term care facility, call the local police force and Healthcare Facility Regulation Division (HFRD) at (800) 878-6442. The GBI Watchdesk can also be reached at (800) 597-8477.